Brett Hurt: The Person Behind the Purpose

Brett Hurt: The Person Behind the Purpose

Brett Hurt, CEO & Co-Founder data.world

 

Want to know what makes our Stoutest  Person of the Year tick?

Check out Brett Hurt’s:
StoutStats     ▪ StoutWays     ▪ StoutInsights

 


I’m All About: Persistence and innovation.  My goal since I was seven years old is to make the world a better place through innovative technology.

Favorite Quote: The Man in the Arena quote, by Theodore Roosevelt.

stout quote dare greatly

Brett Hurt’s Favorite Quote
“The Man in the Arena” by Theodore Roosevelt

Favorite Splurge: Long vacations in other countries (or Hawaii) with my family.

Favorite Color: Green

Loves to: Spend time with my data.world team, my portfolio company CEOs, my Henry Crown Fellows, and my family.

Hates to: Eat at a restaurant without great vegan choices.

Favorite Saying: Persistence pays.

Currently Into: (Reading, Playlist) “Homo Deus”, Yuval’s second book after “Sapiens”.

Strives To: Leave the world better than when I was born into it.

Hopes Others: Strive to do the same.

Can’t Live Without: My family.

Pets: Esther and Mordy (our dogs, named after the main characters of the Jewish holiday, Purim).

Non-profit of Choice & Why: Conscious Capitalism and Entrepreneurs Foundation, because they are both movements about business as a force for good.

Local Charity: Nobility Project (Austin, TX)

Describe Yourself and/or Your Philosophy (20 words or less): Entrepreneur, investor, dad, husband, student, Henry Crown Fellow, sometimes teacher, sometimes mentor, always a friend and always an optimist.


Brett Hurt with his wife Debra

Bold, brave and determined are what Stout is all about. Brett shared his most #Stout moments with us (notice there is a common theme).

BOLD – when I approached my dream girl in the gym (we were both 18)

BRAVE – when I re-approached her at age 21, after she had rejected me at age 18!

DETERMINED – when she finally agreed to go out with me and then I proposed six months later!!  And here we are married with two amazing kids after over 20 years!  I joke with my friends that entrepreneurship is all about persistence when they ask me about my initial pursuit of her (and they find out that she turned me down at 18 but I stayed with it for four years finally to win my dream girl).

 

 


A journey is about making choices, taking action and learning lessons. But it’s individual strategy, born from style and life-shaping experiences,that guide the way.

Who is your biggest inspiration growing up? Now?
Arnold Schwarznegger was a big inspiration when I first started working out at age 14.  But Bill Gates was a big inspiration when I became aware of him after many years of programming. Today, Elon Musk is my biggest inspiration – at least on the career front. He is simultaneously transforming the battery, transportation, energy, and space industries all at once. I wrote a blog post about him here.

Share with us what you tapped into to get through something that seemed hopeless.
When I was a kid, I had no idea that computers would change the world as much as they ultimately have. I was constantly picked on for being a nerd – for spending over 40 hours per week programming. I was obsessed with that since age 7. It seemed hopeless if I listened to the “wisdom of [that] crowd”, but I was truly passionate and knew I had found my calling. Once I started working out at age 14, I quickly transformed my physical body – growing from around 140 pounds to over 220 pounds. Many treated me differently as a result.  But I was the same person inside and still am. So, in many ways, exercise became my salvation to get through the dark times, and I still regularly exercise today.

How do you set goals?
I’m deeply introspective. This is probably the best blog post I’ve written to understand that.

What fuels you?
Improving the world through technology.  Jews are all about “tikkun olam”. It means “repairing the world”. This is a very important part of my identity.

What depletes you?
Against-you leaders. Kirk Dando talks about this (he is my CEO coach).  He looks “for-you leaders”. Those are leaders that are truly rooting for everyone they interact with – they want to bring out the best in other people, and in turn themselves. Against-you leaders want you to lose. I’ve sadly worked with my share of “for-themselves” and “against-you” leaders.

How do you recharge?
I travel with my family and I also exercise regularly (and have since I was 14, as pointed out above).

Do you have any common or reoccurring themes that run in your personal or professional life?
Yes.  Persistence and passion. And exploration and travel.

Do you use same philosophies/techniques in business and in life?
Yes, I very much do. I try to bring out the best culture in both our family and in our business. I try to teach my children that the most important destination in life is to find what they are truly passionate about – and I try to hire employees who are truly passionate about our business. And so on. Life is an integration of work and family, not a separation.

How do you handle conflict?
I used to avoid it.  The book Fierce Conversations helped me overcome this, and it was required reading for all new employees at Bazaarvoice.

What is your biggest obstacle right now?
Making the world aware of data.world – my most ambitious business to date, and the one that has the potential to do the most good for society. It is very hard to organically build a brand that one day will be as well known as Wikipedia. We are well on our way, though.

What is a WIN for you in business? In life?
Business: when I do something that truly helps the world (e.g., our clients, or their customers) and my employees. Life: when I do something that truly helps my family.

How do you celebrate success?
I travel with my family. Life is more about experiences than it is about the acquisition of material things. Although I have also collected some material things as a result of big successes. But the time I spend with my family is absolutely more important to me in celebrating than anything else.

What do you most admire in others?
When they truly know their meaning in life – when they have truly found their passion and are following it. That is so rare.  I’m very fortunate to have that, and I love to spend time with others that have found the same.

What do you wish you had more of?
I’m really struggling with this. I feel very fulfilled in life – I truly feel like I have the right amount of time with my family and my business, even though I work so hard at both (but I’m so passionate about both that it doesn’t feel like “work”).  What I miss the most is my parents. It is hard to be 45 years old and be without both of your parents. My father passed away at age 63, and my mother at age 65. I miss their guidance and love. So, I guess I would say – more time with them in life.

What does a Stout journey look like? Take a look at Brett’s journey, and read more about finding your own path with Stout stories about taking the first steps on your success journey and how to make this your best year yet.